Otherwise known as ‘baghare baingan’, my April recipe is one that has different versions all over India, but the most popular one is from Hyderabad. It has rich, deep, earthy notes, and some recipes use fat green chillies alongside aubergines, or even include lamb’s liver in the sauce. The term ‘baghare’ refers to the tempering of the aubergines.
- 12 baby aubergines
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 2 tbsp vegetable or corn oil
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
- 2 tsp Ginger–Garlic Paste
- 1 quantity of Boiled Onion Paste
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 4 tbsp tamarind paste
- 500ml water
For the masala paste:
- 50g desiccated coconut
- 1 tbsp peanuts
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 3 green chillies, chopped
- 1 tsp jaggery
- A sprig of mint, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Crisp Fried Onions
Make 2 deep slits in each aubergine, forming a cross from the base towards the stalk end but leaving the quarters attached. Leave the calyx and a little of the stalk on to hold the aubergine together. Sprinkle the aubergines with half the salt and set aside for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the masala paste. Separately roast the coconut, peanuts, sesame, coriander and cumin seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a minute or two, and then remove from the heat. Blitz them in a small food processor with the chillies, adding just enough water to make a paste.
To cook the aubergines, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, heavy-based pan and fry them over a high heat for 2–3 minutes, stirring from time to time, until they are seared on all sides. Remove the aubergines from the pan and heat the remaining oil in it. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves, let them crackle, then add the ginger–garlic paste and fry for 2–3 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Add the onion paste and cook, stirring, until it turns light brown. Stir in the turmeric, red chilli powder and masala paste, reduce the heat and fry for 10–12 minutes, until the oil begins to separate from the mixture at the side of the pan. Now add the remaining salt and the tamarind paste and cook for 3–4 minutes.
Return the fried aubergines to the pan and mix well. Pour in the water and simmer for 10–12 minutes, until the aubergines are soft but still hold their shape. Finish with the jaggery, chopped mint and fried onion. Serve with either naan bread or pilau rice.
Tip: Don’t stir the aubergines too vigorously when simmering them in the sauce, as they break quite easily.